A major project using big data and analytics is underway to advance treatment of pediatric cancer, initially focusing on brain tumors.

The initiative supports the Obama Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative to accelerate disease research and disseminate treatment findings to physicians.

“We need radically new ways to empower pediatric researchers around the world to share their data and collaborate in discovery,” says Adam Resnick, PhD, founding director at the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The hospital is hosting Cavatica, a new cloud-based analytics platform to store, share and analyze huge amounts genomic data of pediatric cancer patients. The hospital now is developing Cavatica with biomedical data analysis company Seven Bridges and expects a soft launch soon followed by a full launch during the second quarter of 2016.


Over time, the platform will support research on other rare diseases and bring in data from other sources, such as electronic health records and medical imaging. The plan is to not only make data available to researchers worldwide, but to physicians, and give patients access to their own data, Resnick says.

Cavatica is modeled after an adult cancer platform from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genomics Cloud pilot developed by Seven Bridges. The Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health. The Cancer Genomics Cloud holds the Cancer Genome Atlas, one of the world’s largest genomic datasets.

Two consortiums initially will support Cavatica in its initial foray into deeper research of pediatric cancers: the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium, with seven hospitals already collaborating in research and sharing data among themselves; and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium with 15 children’s hospitals playing the important role of conducting advanced and novel clinical trials of new therapies in support of the Precision Medicine Initiative. More information is available here.

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